When Eddie Bauer launched their First Ascent line a year and a half ago, their intention was to get back to their roots and offer well designed, and technically advanced, equipment for the hardcore outdoor crowd. By most accounts, the new gear, which was designed with the help of some top climbers and mountain guides, has been very well received, earning high marks for being comfortable, warm, and well made.
Up until recently however, I hadn’t had a chance to test out any of the First Ascent gear for myself. The local Eddie Bauer stores don’t stock the line at all, and it has been a challenge to actually see the gear first hand. That changed a few weeks back when I finally got my hands on a Hangfire Hoodie, which serves as insulation in First Ascent layering system.
The first thing that struck me about the Hangfire was the quality of the design and construction. Before I even put the jacket on, I could tell that it was well made, with two-way stretch fleece that is soft to the touch and comfortable to wear. The inclusion of three zip pockets, two for your hands and one on the breast, was a nice touch too.
Eyeballing the Hangfire I thought that it looked like it was a bit on the small size, but when I pulled it on, I found it comfortable to wear, while still being quite form fitting. That’s an excellent quality in an insulation layer, which will slip over a base layer for warmth, but can remain useful under a shell as well. The form fitting design takes away bulk and doesn’t restrict motion either, with the stretchy fleece allowing for plenty of latitude when climbing, hiking, or even paddling.
As you might expect on a hoodie, the hood is an integral and important part of the overall package, and First Ascent has done a good job of integrating it in the Hangfire. The hood has a soft lining that fits snugly against your head when pulled into place, and zippered up, helping to protect from the elements, but it is also made of the same stretch fleece, which means it can also easily stretch over a helmet when the need arises. The hood is also warm and breathable, which makes it very functional as well.
The Hangfire is another piece of gear that is very functional in the backcountry, with all the touches you’d expect from First Ascent. It works well as an insulating layer or as a stand alone jacket, and can even repel light rain if the need arises. But the look and design of the hoodie is great too, which means it will look good kicking around town too. You might even get a compliment or two about how nice it looks.
At an MSRP of $99, the Hangfire represents a nice value to. It’s an excellent jacket that I would have expected to pay more for, offering high quality, a nice fit, and good integration into a layering system. The Hangfire is a great introduction to the First Ascent line and it has definitely made a good first impression on their gear. Can’t wait to try out some more!
(Of note, the Hangfire is also currently on sale in the First Ascent store for just $79, so it is an even bigger bargain. Definitely worth grabbing at that price!)
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